What is the answer? If both men call first for an awareness of the problem, they also call for a conscious, intentional, and disciplined response. Mr. Esolen’s solutions are broader in their intent—with particular examples, whereas Mr. Dreher’s solutions are more specific. In The Benedict Option he lays out particular actions that individuals, families and communities can take. Both men acknowledge that the vocation to re-build a Christian culture will require hard work, sacrifice and serious commitment.
Mr. Dreher is to be commended too, for acknowledging the shared worldview of all Christians who are committed to historic Christianity. Increasingly the division in Christendom is not between Protestant, Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. The division is between those who believe Christianity is revealed by God and is eternally true, and those who believe the Christian religion is a human construct and a historical accident which not only can be adapted for every age, but must be.
When he emerged from his prison cell in communist Romania, Baptist pastor Richard Wurmbrand said in the torture chambers there were no Baptists, Catholics or Orthodox. There were only brothers in Christ. This is the ecumenism of our age: Evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox who hold to the timeless truths of Scripture and the Christian tradition will know at heart that they are brothers and sisters. Together they will rediscover the foundations of the faith, and almost despite themselves, may lay the foundation for a new Christendom.
If you’re interested in the Ben Op, please do order Esolen’s new book, as well as Archbishop Charles Chaput’s latest, Stranger In A Strange Land. We are all three talking about how to be authentically Christian, and to build an authentically Christian culture, in post-Christian America. These men are Roman Catholic, and I am Eastern Orthodox, but all three books will be helpful to all small-o orthodox Christians, as defined by Father Dwight’s quoted remark above.